Motorola’s getting a lot of attention for its upcoming Moto 360 smartwatch, and more than because of the Android Wear software the wearable will run, people are fascinated with the idea of its circular display. It won’t be the first one we ever saw, with Motorola itself delivering the round-screened Aura a few years prior, but anything with a display that’s not rectangular is still very much the exception. And there are good reasons for that: circular displays can be tricky to produce, complicated to address with typical display circuitry, and are more wasteful to fabricate. But today we hear about a new technology from Sharp that hopes to help address at least some of those limitations, as the company announces its Free-Form Display.
The key advancement behind the FFD is how Sharp distributes the LCD panel’s driver circuitry throughout the screen itself, rather than packing it off to the side. The benefits here are twofold, both as FFD gives designers more freedom to experiment with non-standard display shapes, as well as cuts down on the need for thick bezels, possibly even serving to benefit conventional rectangular screens made with this tech.
While Sharp’s got its eye on what FFD could mean for applications like control panels and vehicle dashboards, it also specifically mentions wearables as a market that could benefit from this kind of display flexibility – not just circular screens either, but elliptical or even more exotic layouts could be achieved with FFD.
Sharp says that it’s going to start mass production of FFD LCD panels as soon as it can, but there’s no firm estimate as to just when that might be, nor when they might arrive in commercial products.